THE SEED OF FALSITY IN ALL TRUTH
It is extremely dangerous to accept any statement as absolutely and simply true, however sound and unobjectionable it may appear to be. Napoleon, addressing the Conseil d’Etat said, “ My principal aim in the establishment of a teaching body is to have a means of directing political and moral opinion.” Taken simply, this defines the aim of any reasoned educational policy, in other words, any deliberately and rationally adopted educational policy. Any intelligent educator must admit that her or his purpose is to equip their students for a specific social order. To deny this would be hypocritical. But that aim taken absolutely and pursued consistently would produce human robots bereft of all will, all creativity, all initiative, all intelligence. Indeed, Napoleon’s statement enunciates clearly and precisely the foundational principle of a fascist state. I am indebted for the quotation of Napoleon’s statement to William Heard Kilpatrick’s Source Book in the Philosophy of Education (1945) where that quotation is followed by some two pages devoted to Napoleon’s views and policies on education which fully confirm what I said about the foundation of fascism. I have diverged far and wide in commenting on this quotation, but the moral is simple: Any intelligible statement must in some sense be true, but taken absolutely reveals falsity hidden in its heart. Our guarantee of sanity is ceaseless Socratic demolition of seeming truth.